Six Ways Successful People Ask for Advice

Sep 30, 2021

Do you find seeking help at work or home repulsive? Do you have the feeling of inferiority when you ask for advice?

You are not alone. The majority of people assume that asking for help symbolizes weakness. They don’t wish to feel dumb or seem needy. As Brené Brown wrote, “We mistakenly fall prey to the myth that successful people are those that help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help.”

Recent studies say otherwise. But the problem is that people don’t know how to ask for advice in this world of “Help-yourself” because they don’t see it happening that often. But, it’s a fact that sometimes your hard work and planning alone isn’t enough.

This article is taken from an episode featuring John R. Miles of the Passion Struck Podcast.

Successful People Know How to Ask for Advice and Realize They Need Help

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said “Advice is like snow. The softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon and the deeper it sinks into the mind.”

In a 2015 Harvard Business Review article Harvard Professors David A. Garvin and Joshua D. Margolis gave this guidance, “The whole interaction is a subtle and intricate art. It requires emotional intelligence, self-awareness, restraint, diplomacy, and patience.” 

Asking for advice is not a problem, especially if you follow these six keys successful people use on how to ask for advice without annoying the person you are requesting:

Understand the End Goal of the Advice You are Seeking

Why do we ask for advice? There are certain aspects that we need to take into account when we think about it. To identify what you are looking for, ask yourself: 

  • What is the problem I am trying to solve? 
  • What advice do I seek? Am I looking for coaching, counseling, or mentoring? 
  • Am I only asking because someone else said I should? 
  • What outcome do I desire?

Whatever the reason, you must have a clear image of it.

The Tone of Voice When We Ask for Advice

You must maintain a friendly, positive, and humble tone. And let me put the emphasis on being humble. I recently did an entire episode on why humility is vital to your success. Even if you are in denial, don’t argue or say it up front; instead, have a positive approach towards it. Show your interest in it rather than looking bored.  

When we use a positive tone of voice, it is a credibility builder. And, using being positive is not the same as being nice. When we positively express things, it makes the message clearer, and it will encourage people to buy into our ideas. This positive approach has always been the foundation for my own personal success.

Suppress Your Ego

Don’t try to be a Mr. Know it all. When we are ruled by our ego, we become self-centered, self-righteous, and self-congratulatory. Never assume that you are someone so perfect that you leave no room for improvement. Especially when you are asking for advice, refrain from criticizing others’ suggestions, advice, or counsel just to prove that you are superior. 

Quote by John R. Miles on how to ask for adviceThose who are egotistical fail to learn from their mistakes or advice. Instead, they tend to defend their ideas and opinions. When we let the ego take over, we fail to be vulnerable, which closes us off from listening to others’ views. Don’t let personal ambition, power, status, or self-worth drive how you ask for advice. Be sincere when seeking the guidance of others. Ask for guidance only when you genuinely need it.

Come Prepared

A common mistake people make is that they come empty-handed without any plan or research. Consequently, you will end up dragging the conversation by stating random thoughts and deviating from the main problem hence misleading the adviser into giving you incomplete or unwanted advice. So, always come prepared, write detailed notes on your issues and bring forth ideas on your thoughts on how to solve the problem you are seeking advice on. 

This will help the adviser understand your situation. Ultimately they will be able to identify your key issues and advise you accordingly. Moreover, even during the conversation, grab your notepad and note down the essential points. It will show your willingness and seriousness to achieve your goals and help you carry them out.

Be Open-Minded

It is much likely that the adviser will surprise you with new and exciting ideas, some unexpected things that you weren’t ready to hear. It might even be something that you didn’t want to hear. Even if it confuses you or displeases you, you must have an open-minded approach to it. Your brain might show you red lights after seeing something that challenges your ‘assumed’ well-thought-perfect idea. So, you must have an open mind and be open to new ideas and improvement.

Choose Your Adviser Carefully

Finding the right person for advice is without a doubt the most crucial step. People tend to ask for advice from people close to them and the people they can easily open up to. Seeking advice is a transactional model of conversation. Remember, it requires that you are self-aware, diplomatic, patient, practice restraint, and most importantly empathetic. 

You should not seek a person just because you are comfortable talking to them. I would encourage you to do the opposite. A guide who is willing to tell you the brutal truth.  Find someone in that particular field you are seeking capable enough to help you eradicate your core issues. 

Just don’t go around asking anyone for advice. It will end up confusing you. It will make you indecisive about who to listen to and who not to. Indeed you can act on everyone’s advice, so later on, people might start to think of you as disrespectful for not working on what others suggested. You must notice whether the adviser is serious and willing to help you or not. If not, then it’s better not to listen to him. Never forget to always be grateful to your adviser.

Jump Directly to The Point

Your advisers spare some of their valuable time to hear you out and help you. They aren’t there to hear u speak on and on for hours. So you must keep it precise and to the point. Another point of great importance is to be there in person. 

That is because no one has the time to or wants to read your emails with detailed long paragraphs about you seeking guidance. If possible, it is always better to meet in person. Have a proper conversation, be specific and understanding. Let them know about all the courses you took.

Act-On the Advice and Make the Most of It

A piece of advice has no meaning if you don’t act on it. It follows the idea that ‘You can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink.’ Meaning that it depends on you at the end of the day how you put the advice into practice. If you don’t do anything about it, it won’t work for you no matter how good the advice is. You can turn an excellent bit of advice to dust or mold a bad one into gold. 

Treat the guidance as your number one project. Put it into action, test its potential and explore each aspect of it. See what works and be prepared to make adjustments accordingly. With each step let your adviser know about your progress and ask for more help if need be.

But remember, don’t ask for advice when validation is all that you seek. As Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”

The Passion Struck podcast is helping men and women learn how to go from being passion struck to becoming passion STRUCK and unlocking their full capabilities. Listen to the Passion Struck Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts online. For more information, if you are in a toxic relationship, click here.

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